Woman creates art by painting with mouth after paralysis

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Sunday, November 9, 2014
Woman creates art by painting with mouth after paralysis
A local woman is not letting hand paralysis stop her dreams of being a painter.

NAPERVILLE, Ill. (WLS) -- A local woman is not letting hand paralysis stop her dreams of being a painter.

Imagine all your life you've dreamed of being a painter. Then, suddenly, you lose the use of your hands.

That is exactly what happened to Mariam Pare, a young suburban woman. But that only made her more determined to find a way to make that dream come true.

Before she was shot in the back and paralyzed almost 20 years ago, Pare was a promising painter. At first she thought that dream was over - until she realized she could still paint using her mouth instead of her hands.

"The first time I put a paintbrush to my mouth and started painting it was kind of clumsy, but that was the first point where I realized, 'Wow, I think I may still be able to paint but just in this very different way,'" Pare said.

One of Pare's first paintings was of Bob Marley. She's come a long way but the Naperville artist admits getting from there to here has been quite a challenge.

"It was very different from a physical standpoint, because you are holding the brush with your mouth and you can only reach as far as your neck will go," she said. "I found that when I started working on small paintings, that the memory was still there, the muscle memory. I was just doing it with my mouth."

Pare's work is now found in several galleries in the area. But she says it was a dream come true when actor Pierce Brosnan, "Agent 007," not only bought a portrait she'd painted of him, but he also invited her to his Malibu, Calif. home to talk about her artwork.

Brosnan himself started painting after he lost both his first wife and his daughter to ovarian cancer.

"He was just being so open with me. He made me feel like he understood about my life too. He's a very insightful person. Not superficiality. It was just all there," Pare said.

Pare says her artistic journey is just beginning and that she hopes to be an inspiration for others.

"If they really have a love for something or an interest in something, to not be discouraged by perhaps physical parameters or environmental parameters or even social parameters - to keep trying to do what they love to do," she said. "With practice, anything is possible."

Pare is a member of a group called Mouth and Foot Painting Artists. There are about 800 members worldwide. For information about Pare's work or the artists' group, visit http://www.mfpausa.com/ or http://www.mariampare.com/.